2022 Grants Challenge

Green and Open LAUSD Schoolyards

Will you green and open schoolyards in your neighborhood? LA youth don't have equitable access to parks and the healing qualities of nature. Our public schools are a vital opportunity for kids to run and play. Most of the LA Unified's schoolyards are unshaded, covered in asphalt and uninspiring. Imagine if they were transformed into cool, nature-filled learning and play spaces that support health, academics, equity, and climate-resilience. What will it take to achieve this? All of us! We need your voice, your school, your involvement!


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

The Trust for Public Land Kounkuey Design Initiative Natural Resources Defense Council TreePeople Northeast Trees Occidental College Cal Poly Pomona

What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Green Space, Park Access, and Trees

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The Los Angeles Living Schoolyards Coalition (LYSC) formed in summer 2019 to address the lack of nature on LAUSD school grounds and limited access to school campuses after hours. Our mission is to advocate for and create equitable access to nature and healthy school environments that support: safe outdoor education, physical and mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and climate resilience for students and communities. The connection between lack of access to nature and health is stark. Less access correlates with higher rates of childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The LA County DPH’s 2016 Parks Report states access to green space has many individual and public health benefits, including lower rates of childhood obesity, lower self-reported stress, lower rates of crime, and improved air and water quality. These benefits are critical to the development of children and their families.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Green schoolyards create nature-based outdoor spaces to turn heat-absorbing asphalt into cooling, living ecosystems. They help close equity gaps in access to healthy, experiential learning environments. They help students feel less stressed and more focused, and mitigate the effects of climate change. When implemented across an entire school district green schoolyards can remedy historic inequities in environmental justices and public health while helping to build climate-resilience. It’s time to bring what is working in Oakland— and what has already been proven with long-term successes in places like New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas—to Los Angeles. This isn’t a luxury that we are proposing, this is a critical response to environmental and health conditions that our students face everyday. The Los Angeles Living Schoolyards Coalition is committed to helping transform every school site into nature-filled environments that support students’ health and well-being while also creating more open spaces for the community on weekends. The LSYC is working to: 1. Make it easier to transform and access schoolyards through a transparent and streamlined application and permitting process; 2. Fast-track creating healthy, living schoolyards in neighborhoods that lack access to local public parks; and 3. Open schoolyards as public parks to serve communities during non-school hours.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

It is well known that the existence of trees, parks and natural systems in communities correlates with race and income. When implemented across an entire school district, metropolitan region, or county, green schoolyards can remedy historic inequities in environmental conditions, public health, and climate-resilience. Our vision and intended impact is to leverage the power of green schoolyards to address issues of environmental justice, climate justice, and educational equity. The LA Living Schoolyards Coalition is working to: • Identify a clear path to opening and greening schools across LAUSD to make it easier to transform asphalt-covered schoolyards into vibrant, green spaces, with natural play structures, and outdoor classrooms that are unlocked for public use after school hours to help provide park access for the 1.5 million Angelenos who lack it; and • To create comprehensive greening and joint-use at all LAUSD schools, starting with those in the highest need communities.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We will measure success in the following ways: - Number of parents, students and partners who engage with coalition activities. This includes signing pledge forms and mobilizing members to participate in actions planned by the coalition. - Number of actions and activities planned by students and parents at schools across the district. - Document the impacts of the current condition of schoolyards on students and then share out this information in advocacy meetings and social media. - Development of a draft school greening and opening policy to be adopted by the LAUSD Board of Education. The policy will map out our three coalition priorities. - Make the pursuit of school greening and access more user-friendly through a transparent and streamlined application and permitting process. - Fast-track the conversion and greening design of schools in neighborhoods that lack access to local public parks. - Transform schoolyards into parks to serve communities during non-school hours.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 1,000

Indirect Impact: 5,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

Coalition partners include Cal Poly Pomo (research into benefits and student support), Council for Watershed Health (expertise in water capture and greening projects), Heal the Bay (tiol experience in connecting schools to ture), LA Beautification Team (hands-on experience transforming schools), Kounkuey Design Initiative (research, communications and design expertise), tural Resources Defense Council (policy and legal expertise), North East Trees (hands-on experience transforming schools) and Occidental College (research into benefits), The Trust for Public Land (tiol experience greening schools and community organizing expertise), Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (expertise building parks and open spaces on LAUSD campuses and community organizing expertise).